This year we have seen record breaking temperatures across the globe, June 2023 was actually the hottest month ever recorded. In fact, Death Valley, California had record temperatures of 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
With the record breaking temperatures, there are a few things for truckers to remember as they hit the road this summer.
We've all seen heat coming off the pavement, where the road looks mirrored and the space above almost looks fuzzy or as if there are waves going through it. This is a sign of extreme heat. There are a few things to keep in mind when driving in extreme hot weather.
First things first, ensure that your vehicle is ready for the extreme conditions by ensuring your drivers are completing Pre-Trip Inspections every day. This can save you from potential tire blowouts and other vehicle complications that are often associated with heat.
Check your tires for tread separations, tread depth and pressure. It is important in extreme weather conditions to check your tires every few hours or 150 miles to ensure your equipment is still working correctly. Tires are often the first piece of equipment to malfunction when driving in high temperatures.
Make sure your engine fluid levels are at the proper capacity. Engine oil helps to keep the engine cool as well as lubricate it. Also, ensure your engine has the proper amount of water and coolant at the start of your drive and make sure that the engine fluids are staying at a safe temperature throughout your drive. Ensure all lubrication points are properly greased and all axle hubs are lubricated and sealed from leaks.
In extreme temperatures, the road can appear to melt, this is called bleeding tar. The tar on the road tends to rise to the surface and in turn make the surface of the road slippery. This will cause random shiny spots on the road where the tar has leaked to the surface.
Driving at slower speeds not only will help you control your vehicle but can also prevent your vehicle from overheating. Driving at high speeds creates friction in your tires and engine, creating more heat. In extreme heat your vehicle is already hotter than normal, so driving fast is just going to cause you to overheat and be stuck on the side of the road. The constantly rising heat increases the changes of engine failure, tire failure or even fire.
Inspecting the engine belts prior to driving in extreme conditions, it is important that the driver inspects the belts tightness on the pulley and inspect the overall condition of the belts. In addition to inspecting the belts, a driver should check the fan for damaged, missing, or cracked fan louvers.
Last but not least, instruct your drivers to keep and eye on the air brake system. Inspect the hoses and air lines, especially in the area of the steering axles and trailer connection points. Look for any evidence of chafing, crack though the outer reinforcement ply. All brake lines are equally important. Ensure both drivers and maintenance technicians are regularly inspecting all brake pushrod travel to ensure it is within the safety limits.
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Make sure to check also out our online DOT Training platform, DOT University! We currently are offering Reasonable Suspicion for Supervisors, Cargo Securement, Defensive Driving, and Pre/Post Trip Inspection. In the coming months, we plan on releasing DOT Compliance Essentials and Periodic Annual Inspection Qualification Training (Appendix A).
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